When you think of the Detroit Tigers you probably think of power. If you naturally think of pitching first, then power-pitching Justin Verlander probably pops into your mind. If offense is your tendency, then either Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder could easily be those you think about. What about speed? Center fielder Austin Jackson has speed but his base running skills seemed to fall backwards in 2012. That is the final skill that Jackson needs to perfect to be a complete ballplayer.
Don’t get me wrong, Jackson did just fine last season. His third big league campaign saw a ton fewer strikeouts and a .300 batting average. He scored 103 runs and belted 55 extra base hits including ten triples. Defensively his play is top-notch as well. His fielding percentage is .997 from last season, with only one error in 345 chances. It doesn’t get much better than that. Jackson’s arm is strong and accurate. Basically, he has it all in the way of major league center fielders. Why then did he only swipe 12 bags in 2012?
The previous two seasons he stole over 20 bases and was still only caught a few times. Whatever the problem last season, he needs to correct it because it is the only blemish on his record. It’s not that the Tigers really are a big base running team anyway, they mostly trot after homers. So Jackson doesn’t have to steal 75 bases or anything like that. Just better, smarter base running will be all that he needs. Considering he successfully fixed his hitting approach last year to greatly lessen strikeouts, I don’t think minor base running adjustments will be a problem. Look for a better season on the bags for Jackson, and possibly a great season overall.